June 2003

I Nominate Brazilian Furtado to the Nobel

It is long overdue for the Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Prize for
Economics to the outstanding Brazilian intellectual and economist Celso Furtado.
At times, it seems that Brazil is the only country in the world that
never got a single Nobel Prize. It's time to correct this grave oversight.

Ricardo C. Amaral

The Nobel Prize is the first international award given yearly since 1901. The prize recognized annually the achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. In 1968 a new category was created for the awards to recognize achievements in economics. 

From its inception in 1901 to 2002 a total of 732 awards was given to people and organizations to recognize their achievements in the various fields as follows: 167 awards for physics, 141 for chemistry, 177 for medicine, 95 for literature, 102 for peace, and 50 for economics. 

People from all the major countries in the world have earned a Nobel Prize, with the exception of Brazil. Brazil has zero Nobel prizes; not a single Brazilian managed to win a Nobel Prize. Brazilians have not managed to earn a prize even in the politically and meaningless category such as—the Nobel Prize for Peace. 

Why do I think that the Nobel Peace Prize is a meaningless prize? I asked a number of people the following question: If they had to give only one Nobel Peace prize for anyone who has lived in the last 100 years and they thought he or she deserved that prize, to whom they would give that one peace prize? The answer I got was unanimous, everybody gave me the same answer—the one person whom everybody associated with peace was Mahatma Gandhi. 

There are two men with a track record of being internationally known as terrorists who received the Nobel Peace Prize—Menachem Begin (1978) and Yasser Arafat (1994). But the one person who is a symbol for peace—Mahatma Gandhi—was never awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. As far I am concerned the Nobel Peace Prize is a political and worthless category. 

It is about time

It's not that Brazil doesn't have qualified candidates to win a Nobel Prize. The Brazilian government, Brazilian institutions, Brazilian companies, and Brazilians in general are not in the habit of promoting and supporting the best that our Brazilian culture has to offer to the rest of the world, as some other major countries do. 

In the past, with a little more support from Brazilian institutions and the Brazilian government, Brazil could have received Nobel Prizes for more than one category over the years, including prizes in literature and economics. Today, there is a world renowned Brazilian economist who has been overlooked by the Nobel Prize Committee all these years, and it is time for the Nobel Committee to correct this situation—it is long overdue for the Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Prize for Economics to the outstanding Brazilian intellectual and economist—Celso Furtado. 

Why Furtado?

Celso Furtado, a world-renowned Brazilian economist and intellectual, is also one of the leading Latin American economists and social thinkers.  

He is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, and the permanent holder of chair number 11 of that prestigious organization. The Brazilian Academy of Letters is constituted of forty chairs, whose perpetual occupants are elected, after they are presented as candidates to a vacant chair, and they have to meet its qualifications.  

Quoting from a profile of Celso Furtado, which was published on March 22, 1999, here is further information about him:

"Celso Furtado is one of those near-mythical figures who has managed to achieve the ideal for those concerned with problems of development: a career as a development theoretician and practitioner that has spanned the complementary paths of academia, government service, the international arena, and `non-political politics'.

"Furtado's life can be encapsulated under several headings in the context of the Brazilian bildungsroman: Celso Furtado as one of Brazil's (and indeed Latin America's) most highly regarded and prolific scholars; Celso Furtado the internationalist, working with the UN and traveling the Western Hemisphere; Celso Furtado as the champion of development in his native Northeast; and Celso Furtado in his hands-on attempt to put his theories into practice through working with the government.

"One of the most significant features of his work as a technocrat was with the Superintendency for the Development of the Northeast (SUDENE). This final aspect is not just a part of Furtado's story, however; it also constitutes a significant leitmotif for Brazil's contorted political economic trajectory.

"Furtado the theoretician: Along with Raúl Prebisch, Celso Furtado is seen as one of the creators of the highly influential structuralist school of economic development thought, which articulated the initial blueprint of the industrialization by invitation development strategy followed by many if not all Latin American states in the 1940s and 1950s.

"Joseph Love's review of Furtado's role as "the first, most original, and most prolific of the structural writers in Brazil," attributes Furtado with being the first to "specifically assert that development and underdevelopment were part of the same process of the expansion of the international capitalist economy" 

There is a lot of information in the Internet related to Celso Furtado. If you want to learn more about his profile then go to the following website:   

Celso Furtado has been a prolific writer and many of his works have been translated to other languages. Many of his books have been published in English, and are available in the United States. Among them:

Economic Development of Latin America: Historical Background and Contemporary Problems, The Economic Growth of Brazil: A Survey from Colonial to Modern Times, Accumulation and Development: The Logic of Industrial Civilization and Underdevelopment and dependence: the fundamental connections

The Nobel Prize Committee has overlooked Brazil for over 100 years; it is time for the Nobel Committee to correct this major oversight. The Nobel Committee should award the 2004 Nobel Prize for Economics to Celso Furtado.

Ricardo C. Amaral is an economist and author. You can reach him at


World 732 vs. Brazil 0

The 732 Nobel Prize award winners by country: Argentina 5, Australia 6, Austria 11, Belgium 9, Burma 1, Brazil Zero, Canada 10, Chile 2, China 2, Colombia 1, Costa Rica 1, Czechoslovakia 2, Democratic Republic of Vietnam 1, Denmark 13, East Timor 2, Egypt 3, Germany 76, Finland 2, France 50, Ghana 1, Greece 2, Guatemala 2, Hungary 3, Iceland 1, India 4, Ireland 5, Israel 5, Italy 14, Japan 12, Mexico 2, Nigeria 1, Norway 8, Pakistan 1, Palestine 1, Poland 5, Portugal 2, Russia / USSR 17, Saint Lucia 1, South Africa 5, South Korea 1, Spain 6, Sweden 30, Switzerland 22, The Netherlands 15, Tibet 1, Union of South Africa 1, United Kingdom 100, United States 266, Yugoslavia 1 


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